Congress race sets up game of political musical chairs

Stars and Stripes Democratic Club member eyeing Colton’s job

January 22, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Nicholas Zimmitti says he's interested in running for the state assembly seat currently held by fellow Democrat Bill Colton, if Colton moves up the ladder and becomes a congressman. Photo courtesy Nicholas Zimmitti
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The race to fill the vacant congressional seat formerly held by Republican Michael Grimm is setting up a game of political musical chairs that could have ramifications further down on the election ballot.

This week, Nicholas Zimmitti, an associate staff analyst for the New York City Board of Elections, said he is interested in running for Assemblymember Bill Colton’s seat if Colton wins Grimm’s Congress seat.

“I am extremely happy to announce my interest in exploring a candidacy for the 47th Assembly District in Brooklyn,” said Zimmitti, a member of the Stars and Stripes Democratic Club in Bensonhurst.

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“My life has been dedicated to the residents of the community through civic and government service, and I am eager to continue to serve the area through elected office,” said Zimmitti, a graduate of Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge who has a marketing degree from Saint John’s University.

Colton, a Democrat who has represented the 47th Assembly District (Gravesend-Bensonhurst) since 1996, recently announced that he is considering running for Congress.

Colton would not have to give up his assembly seat to run for a house seat.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo would have to set a date for a special election to fill Grimm’s seat. Grimm resigned from Congress on Jan. 5. He had pleaded guilty to income tax fraud in Brooklyn Federal Court in December.

If Colton won the special election, then another special election would have to be held, this time to fill his assembly seat.

The 11th Congressional District, which Grimm represented for four years, is composed of the borough of Staten Island and a handful of southwest Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst and Gravesend.

In addition to Colton, Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) has expressed an interest in running for the open congressional seat.

On the Staten Island side of the district, former Democratic Congressman Michael McMahon and Assemblymember Michael Cusick, also a Democrat, have been mentioned as possible candidates.

Things appear to be more settled on the Republican side of the campaign, as Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan is the only declared candidate.

The Executive Committee of the Kings County Conservative Party recently interviewed Donovan and voted to recommend that the New York State Conservative Party endorse him. 

Kings County Chairman Jerry Kassar said the committee members were impressed with Donovan’s “knowledge and broad understanding of Conservative Party positions on a variety of federal issues including the need to keep taxes and spending down.”

Donovan would be an effective member of Congress, according to Bob Capano, who directed district offices of former Congressmembers Vito Fossella and Bob Turner.

“I vividly recall having Dan Donovan as my guest speaker at the Brooklyn Young Republican Club’s January 2007 meeting at Peggy O’Neill’s in Bay Ridge when I was president. He impressed many with his high conviction rate in Staten Island, his bi-partisan appeal, and strong legislative agenda including eliminating the statute of limitations on rape and tightening laws governing sex offenders. As someone who directed offices with two members of congress from New York City, I know Dan Donovan has what it takes to be an outstanding congressman for us,” Capano wrote in an email to the Brooklyn Eagle.



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